Confirmed: Google has Acquired Aardvark

Why aardvark? u guys had something great going on here.. selling out so soon, with so much potential to make you much richer than the $50M google gave u… just like smule who had a fantastic head start with the ocarina and other apps.. they raised $3.9M dollars thereafter. the aardvark community grew strongly quickly and created a niche that no other search engine does nor did. real time answering from real people. sure, u have yahoo answers et tal.. in those u hope that someone knowledgeable will pick up the glove and provide you with the info you need. by using vark, u can get good answers in minutes, and the more you ask, the more the system learns about how to route the question to the right person and figure out which answer was a good one. there was an attempt at the beginning of the interent revolution. at the time i was at my 2nd year in college studying computer scient. one of our teachers started a small venture where people answer each other’s questions. the implementation was not at it’s best, but it kinda worked. after two years of operations the money had run out and the creative ideas of how to make money dried as well, so they shut it down (for the life of me, i cannot remember the name of that company). what vark is doing differently is several things. one, it uses jabber/xmmp protocol to be present right there alongside gmail contacts with google talk, or any aggregator (like adium) that supports this open source protocol. the heart of the system is the algorithms to analyze a given question, suggest the right tag (ie topic) and route it to whoever is a good authority in the field (usually more than one person). those people are online (naturally) and can either pass or answer. you can then continue discussing the issue with them, rank it as a good answer or flag it as an inappropriate one. if u did not get the answer you want, you can resubmit it, change the tags and hope for the best. i started testing aardvark since the day it launched it’s beta and later on the iphone app. at the beginning there were not many users, and not so many questions to answer, but quite slowly, over a period of two months it was working really well. best case scenario, i got a solid answer in less than a minute. nothing i could do with google or any other search engine. the social aspect is interesting as well. people love giving answers to what they know about. there is an innate desire in humans to help each other out… u may say it is an ego thing (and to some extent u are probably right), however, people get our of their way to provide answers sometimes, doing basic research, giving good links and more. so why is google buying aardvark? good question. two answers: one, the small team of aardvark are ex google employees with top notch management with yale and stanford grads. these are serious people with the creativity and leadership ability to makes things work. they understand google and it’s weaknesses and have found a way to monetize. two, real time person to person (rtp2p) search does not exist. and the aardvark team has shown us that it can be done, and done well. so where is the money? meaning… how does the aardvark makes it’s profit. good question again. and the answer is simple: just like google’s adwords, the aardvark places results that are paid for. for example, let’s say someone is asking the community if they can recommend or know a computer technician in the upper west side of manhaatan. some people will respond giving their input, but this question can be routed directly into a paying customer, who wants to be notified immediately when someone is looking for a technician in the metropolitan area. long short – a lead engine. i have answered several questions and provided links to products on amazon, using my amazon referral id, so why not others in a streamlined maner, where the vark directs all of those potential leads to the user. aardvark also plants automatic answers. i was questioned by the devel team about the quality of that feature a couple of months back, when i was looking for someone to build a loft bed in my studio. i got an answer from service magic, a well known lead generator for all type of construction work. if haven’t tried aardvark u definitely should. they are at http://vark.com, they have a free iphone app and they can be added to your fav jabber client as [email protected] Confirmed: Google has Acquired Aardvark.

what does hunting lions and the ipad have in common?

men usually do not carry bags around. they try and utilize any available storage space (jean pockets mainly) to avoid the “trouble” of carrying a bag (common in israel).

the home/car keys goes in the front pocket (bulky), the other front pocket holds the cell phone, wallet goes in the back , or can squeeze in front and, and the list goes on… when visiting a cafe in Tel-Aviv for example, you will notice that the table has everyone’s items on display 🙂 otherwise it will be painful to sit, right?

on a medical note, realize that carrying these items creates tiny imbalances that influence your posture and has microscopic effects on your spine. sound silly and you may dismiss it.. don’t say i did not warn you though…

to my point: there is something inherit about us men, genetic even, that our primal impulse is to refuse the usage of a bag in order carry stuff around.. it makes sense, it saves us lots of trouble and assists in keeping all our belongings safe and available. no… we will not use it. one may say it’s fashion related, that we don’t want to look feminine… or maybe (just maybe) it is the hunter within us that wants to be as light as possible.. you know, so we can responds to imminent attacks from wild animals – our lives are at stake here..

sometimes you will see a couple walking down the street holding hands. so romantic right? if you look closely you will notice that the guy is carrying a bag, which is not his own.. she packed all she will need (wallet, keys, makeup kit, emergency makeup kit, tissue paper, tampons, hand sanitizers and all you one she conceivably thinks may come in handy).. the poor guy looks defeated almost… why? because he planned on carrying pretty much nothing.. and he ends up carrying everything 🙂

guys are hunters, women are gatherers.. they go out to the fields for a while, pick berries and mushrooms, examine colors and compare notes. they need stuff (whatever that is) to get by. us men hunt lions, we need to move fast on our feet, carrying nothing but our weapons.

us guys can “get ready” quickly,  minimize what we carry on us, avoid a bag altogether right? we leave our homes happy. we have it all ON us, without any accessories..  and then the lady comes by, bats her eye lids and asks “can u please carry this for me?”… “sweetheart” he tells her, “i am hunting lions here! i need to be agile and responsive! the last thing i need is to carry a bag! .. what the hell?!”. and of course he carries it (if he is a gentleman) with an inherit feeling of defeat.

sounds familiar? i thought so… 🙂 what does it all have to do with technology (this is a technology blog…) you are probably wondering by now…

here is my question: can the ipad change the game for men?one of the great things about the iphone is that it is quite small for what it can do. it can fit into your jean pocket or clipped to a  belt. the ipad is a versatile device that will require some sort of carrying (not the one portrayed in the image above for sure.. though some men would find it appealing). the right design and concept may start convincing more men that carrying a bag around is cool and masculine. we won’t have to feel like a girl walking around with a bag full of stuff we don’t need.

i personally think there is room for an ipad carrying bag that men would adopt and use. time will tell.

why we need the semantic web: or how google can do a better job

google provides me with email alerts whenever the word “pengas” pops up on the news/blogsphere. we are a small family and i am interested in learning if there are members of us out there in the world (like greece, israel, US, canada and australia).

today i got an email from this service which, supposedly, had found a mentioning of “pengas” in it. when i opened the link (Lucky in Love: A Flower for My Hair), i did not find any pengas. what i did find is penga. more specifically: “…I basically followed the tutorial Penga from Convention of a…”.

so what is going on here? my alert is for “pengas”, and here i am with a result of “penga”…
my guess is google is using a rule engine to better understand a word. gramatically, pengas can also be penga’s. for example, think of the game “pengas’s peril” which is everywhere. i get notifications about it as well.

so for google’s engine penga and penga’s are related, hence, i get both results if i omit the apostrophe. but what google doesn’t get, is that i am not making any abbreviations. pengas is my fully qualified last name.

here is where i believe the semantic web will make a difference. by using metadata to describe the essence of the word (or context) i will be able to instruct google that pengas is NOT penga’s. it CAN be pengas’ (for singular or plural), but please don’t waist my time with redundant results.

unfortunately google is lagging behind it’s services in other areas as well…
take a look at this page

this is has 54 map locations that i have created on a google docs spreadsheet. using the map gadget, i’ve put them all on a map and published it as a web page and then embedded it into the site.

this page take over a minute to load on certain browsers. on chrome (mac version) it does not load at all.

absolutely ridiculous. i actually published this issue in the google docs help forum

as u can probably see i got not answer since november of last year.

long-short. google needs to stay on it’s tows and get things together. it is these little things that will separate them from their competition. search sites like wolfram alpha.